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In this article:
- Best men’s walking shoes
- How we test
- What to look for
When it comes to walking shoes, comfort is king, but you do need to pay attention to the type of shoes you’re buying. If you enjoy light trail walking, there are shoes specifically made for that. Something more intense? There’s a pair of shoes for that, too. Regardless of what you need them for, the best walking shoes need to be comfortable. Support is also one of the most important things to consider. Everything on our list of the best men’s walking shoes in 2023 ticks the necessary boxes.
Some shoes offer waterproof linings — often Gore-Tex fabrics — that make them better suited for walking around in wet or rainy conditions. Others will eschew linings to remain as lightweight and breathable as possible, making them better for hot conditions.
I’ve put together my picks for the best walking and adventure shoes. Each product in this list has been hand-selected and thoroughly tested to ensure it performs as well as it should. If it didn’t impress, it didn’t make the list. This guide focuses specifically on walking shoes, but if you’re covering more ground and want more sturdy, supportive footwear, then head over to our guide to the best hiking boots.
Note: All the shoes shown here were tested in men’s models.
Best men’s walking shoes
Salewa’s Dropline GTX shoes were already some of my favorite fast-hiking shoes, thanks to their exceptionally comfortable footbed which allows you to walk at speed without ever feeling weighed down. The Dropline Mid shoes take that same formula and add a mid-height ankle, giving increased support on more challenging terrain.
They lack the waterproof Gore-Tex lining, which is a shame, but the close-fitting “sock” ensures that stones or other bits of loose debris won’t find their way inside your shoe.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the Salewa Dropline Mid shoes here.
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The deep, rugged lugs of the Continental sole and the sturdy footbed make the Terrex AX4 shoes a solid option for everyday hikes, especially if you don’t need the ankle support — and additional weight — of a regular boot. They’re comfortable on multi-hour walks and the Gore-Tex lining means that a sudden rain shower won’t result in you returning home with wet feet.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the Adidas Terrex AX4 shoes here.
Columbia’s Peakfreak shoes are lightweight but with a relatively sturdy sole that provides excellent support over longer distances. They’re comfortable to wear while the grippy sole coped well with both wet grass and rain-soaked city streets and slick cobblestones. While they don’t have the ankle-support of a full boot, I felt confident walking in these shoes on mixed terrain in poor conditions.
They’re waterproof too (Columbia uses its own waterproof membrane) that did a decent job of keeping the Scottish weather out. If you’re after a sturdy do-it-all hiking shoe, Columbia’s offering is a solid option to consider.
These comfortable trail shoes are made with recycled materials including reused plastic bottles and recycled yarns so you can be confident that your actual feet have a smaller carbon footprint. The shoes are comfortable to wear, with enough support across the arch to keep you going for longer journeys.
They don’t have a waterproof lining, so if you’re after a shoe for wet-weather walks then it’s worth looking elsewhere, but the Roclite 310 shoes offer a secure and comfortable fit for casual walks in dry conditions.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the Inov-8 Roclite Recycled 310 shoes here.
Aimed more at trail running than regular walking, these sneaker-like shoes are excellent for those of you that like to hike the forest trails at a faster pace. The shock-absorbing midsole is extremely comfortable on mixed terrain, while the deeper lugs of the Vibram sole provide plenty of traction, even in wet conditions.
They’re light, too, meaning you can wear them for full-day trail walks without having to spend days nursing your aching feet afterwards.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6 shoes here.
I love the look of these adventure shoes, with their deep lugs protruding from the footbed and the white-brown-blue color combination on my test pair. They look great with jeans and are ideal for those urban exploration days when you know you’ll end up at the bar with your friends. The sole — as I found with others in the On range — is exceptionally supportive and provides a rocking motion as you walk which seems to actively propel you forward making them great for faster hikes.
What I don’t like is the elastic lacing that comes with them which seemed too loose for me and resulted in my foot slipping out, particularly when I walked with more pace. I replaced it with a set of regular laces for just a few dollars which I found made these boots feel much more secure and comfortable all round.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the On Shoes Cloud Hi Waterproof boots here.
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APL’s shoes come with a high price that’s out of reach for many but has put the company on the radar of fashionistas and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The ZipLine’s have a one-piece woven upper that can stretch in all areas providing a perfectly snug fit and exceptional levels of out-the-box comfort.
While they’re aimed more at running than walking, the deep, springy foam soles propel you forward as you walk, making them superb for putting in the miles on your walks exploring the city.
With a tough outer fabric and more sturdy, grippy soles, the Trail shoes are better equipped for a life in the hills than the slipper-soft Allbirds Mizzle. But their merino wool lining and comfortable footbed makes them incredibly comfortable to wear, even on longer trail runs (or fast hikes, in my case). They’re great on woodland trails and lakeside pathways but are just as good on city streets.
They’re made with eco-conscious materials including merino wool, eucalyptus fiber, natural rubber, sugarcane and castor bean oil, while the shoelaces are made from recycled plastic bottles.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the Allbirds Trail Runners here.
The deep padding of the footbed and the flexible outer material makes the Dropline GTX probably the most comfortable walking shoes I’ve ever worn. They’ve tackled mile upon mile of dirt trails, city-center asphalt and paving and they never fail to feel supportive. They’re also light, grippy and waterproof thanks to their Gore-Tex lining.
They’re an exceptional shoe for everything from Sunday afternoon wanders through the park to weekends away in the hills.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the Salewa Dropline GTX shoes here.
The Allbirds Runner-up Mizzle shoes are among the softest things I’ve had the pleasure of putting on my feet. This is thanks to their merino wool construction, which has the added benefit of making this lightweight boot an eco-friendly choice. The soft, spongy sole means these aren’t shoes for tackling mountains, or even woodland trails, but they’re a delightful walking boot for urban exploration, hopping between cafes and museums.
This hiking boot option is water-resistant, so an impromptu rain shower won’t slow you down, while the incredible light weight of the shoes mean you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’ve accidentally gone out in your slippers.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the Allbirds Runner-up Mizzles here.
Although designed primarily for trail running, these light and comfortable shoes can make for great quick hikes both in town and further afield. I loved the comfort from the deep footbed and the grippy trail-running sole meant I felt stable and sure-footed on asphalt and gravel as well as grass, dirt tracks and lakeside trails.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the On Shoes Cloudultra shoes here.
Like the Cloudrock boots, the Cloudventure shoes feature the unique curving sole with deep lugs, making the shoes as supportive, stable and comfortable as their boot siblings. They have a more modern, style-led design than many other walking shoes on the market, which makes them ideal for those of you who want an all-day trail shoe that you won’t feel the need to change out of this hiking shoe when you get to the pub at the end of your hike — as long as they’re not too caked in mud.
They’re fully waterproof and their low weight means they’re just as well-suited for a trail runner as they are for a fast-paced hiker.
Note: Women’s version tested for this model.
Shopping in the UK? Buy the Men’s On Shoes Cloudventure Waterproof shoes here.
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How we test our walking shoes
We test all our shoes in real-world conditions. That means actually putting our feet into them, lacing them up and hitting the trails, the streets or the hills. Nothing is based on press releases or other marketing promises — each pair is assessed on its own merits and if it doesn’t tick all our boxes, it doesn’t make the final cut.
We tested these shoes in Scotland, with some pairs being put to use on the rugged cobbled streets of Edinburgh, others taken into the forests and hills outside of the city. Not all shoes are made for the same tasks, so we try and test each pair in its most suitable environment. Every pair gets a minimum of 15 miles usage (but usually much more) and Scotland’s famously wet weather means that any claims for waterproofing are easy to put to the test.
We check for comfort, ensuring that they can be worn all day without causing blisters or other pains and that they have sufficient grip to tackle the miles. We also look out for manufacturing quality — especially any loose stitching or gaps in gluing — that could indicate that they won’t last long on the trails.
What to look for in a walking shoe
Although it might seem simple enough to buy a pair of walking shoes, there’s a lot of choice out there, so finding your ideal pair isn’t necessarily straightforward. It’s important then to consider what you need from your shoes. Here are a few factors to consider:
- The type of terrain you’ll be walking in — city streets, unpaved flat paths, rocking trails.
- The climate — do you need your shoe to be waterproof, or have traction for slippery conditions?
- Your foot’s individual needs — do you need a wide shoe? One with extra ankle support?
If you’ll mostly be walking on gentle countryside tracks or carefully-groomed forest trails then an all-round walking shoe like the Adidas Terrex AX4 will suit you well. Those of you looking for a speedier hike will appreciate the support and cushioning from more trail running-focused models like the Allbirds Trailer Runner SWT or New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro.
If you’re planning on hitting more rocky or loose terrain then it’s worth considering whether a shoe is right for you — the additional ankle support of a boot could give you a more steady-footing and put you less at risk of falling. A happy medium could be a mid-height shoe like the Columbia Facet 60 or Salewa Dropline Mid, which are essentially still shose, but with a bit more ankle support.
If you’re likely to be hiking in wet conditions then look out for either Gore-Tex linings, or other ‘own-brand’ waterproof linings that the manufacturer might use. Keep in mind that “waterproof” in boots rarely means ‘submersible’ so don’t expect to stand in a river all day doing some fishing, expecting to keep the water out.
Finally, make sure you have the right fit. While most shoes are built to fit a ‘standard’ shoe shape, if you’ve got a particularly wide foot and struggled to find shoes to fit then look out for models that offer wider sizing. Most manufacturers tend to offer sizing guidance (“Fits true to size” or “Fits small”) on their websites, so keep that in mind when considering the fit.
More for people hitting the trails
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- Best Running Shoes for Men for 2023
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.